Teaching personal safety is a broad topic. There’s teaching how to interact with strangers and other people in the world, to trust your own emotions, to be aware of your surroundings, what to do if you are lost or separated from others, toys safety, internet safety, water safety, fire safety, choking hazards, guidelines for being home alone and more. The list is long and detailed.
Here are a few related tips and links to related resources:
- Always aim for a balance between teaching that the world is basically a safe place and people are generally good, but also that there are dangers in the world and it’s good to be prepared. The goal is to make children aware and prepared, NOT scared.
- It is best to identify and discuss dangerous and concerning situations as you go through life together. Safety isn’t taught in a conversation or two, it is taught over time and with examples. In teaching most things to young children, it is best to avoid lectures. Rather have real conversations, role plays, puppets shows, stories and hypotheticals.
- A central task in teaching safety is teaching children to trust their emotional responses. A child should be aware and learn to listen to and communicate their own fears and concerns. This comes from teaching them emotion language, giving empathy and validation to their emotions and allowing for follow-up conversations. Here is a link to a previous blog post on teaching emotion lanaguage: https://parentingbydrrene.com/2013/03/11/ways-to-teach-children-emotion-language/.
- Another important piece is teaching children to have an assertive voice in social exchanges. This is not teaching them to be aggressive, but rather to feel comfortable standing up for themselves. Here is a link to a previous blog post on teaching assertive voice: https://parentingbydrrene.com/2012/10/15/helping-kids-speak-up-for-themselves/.
- Good parenting books: Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe and Parents Sane by DeBecker http://www.amazon.com/Protecting-Gift-Keeping-Children-Teenagers/dp/0440509009 and Safe Kids, Smart Parents by Bailey http://www.amazon.com/Safe-Kids-Smart-Parents-Children/
- A good children’s DVD: The Safe Side: Stranger Safety http://www.amazon.com/Stranger-Safety-DVD/
Join me for a valuable workshop that covers the basics of each area and how to best address these topics with children. My workshop on Teaching Personal safety is available 7:00-9:00 p.m. June 17th in Falls Church, Va. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.eventbrite.com/o/parenting-by-dr-rene-parenting-playgroups-283710166?s=1328924.